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 What Would Joe Do?

Archive for 2013

Cliff Cummings: His teaching is gift to the industry

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Perfectly suited by nature to teaching, when affable Cliff Cummings steps up to conduct his Verilog course, the class is in for a treat. From the get-go, Cliff establishes a tone of respect, humor, and openness to questions of any kind. He encourages students to interrupt when they don’t understand, to stand up, sit down, resort to coffee and/or carbs, and in all ways to relax and enjoy the learning experience.

There’s something additional, however, that Cliff brings to his inspired task of teaching and that’s his decades of involvement with the Verilog language, its evolution, standards, and implementation. What Cliff Cummings doesn’t know about Verilog and SystemVerilog, isn’t worth knowing. Period.

This week, Cliff is teaching Verilog-2001 Design & Best Coding Practices in Silicon Valley – specifically, in the offices of EDA Direct – and I’ve been lucky enough to attend. Not being a Verilog expert, I approached the class with some trepidation, but found to my delight that I was not the only one among the 8 engineers in the room “new” to the language. We’re all engineers, but we’re not all Verilog designers and hence it’s a class perfectly suited to our skills, interests, and goals.

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FinFETs: Steptoe says bring ‘em on

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

 

Kevin Steptoe is VP of Engineering at Sondrel, a global chip-design consultancy based in Reading, U.K. We spoke this morning by phone about the future of FinFETs, in particular Steptoe’s reaction to my blog posted earlier this month, FinFETs: Yes, No, Maybe.

Steptoe said there’s nothing maybe about FinFETs. They are most definitely “an absolute yes” – revolutionary and disruptive as they may be – and offer great promise for the future of chip design, manufacturing, and deployment. And he said, his enthusiasm for the technology is not just from Sondrel’s point of view, but from his own personal involvement in the industry that extends back several decades.

Per Steptoe: “As the world’s increasingly insatiable demand for mobile, tablet-based, higher frequency devices ramps up, the predominant challenges for engineers and designers translate into fears of leakage power and performance. The FinFET, in its construction, addresses these challenges and makes mobile devices dramatically more possible.

“[In fact], the control of the short-channel affect and suppression of leakage actually simplifies things, so engineers will have the opportunity to achieve much higher [transistor] density, much lower power, and similar-or-increased performance levels. We see FinFETs as a win all the way around, a no-brainer that will fully live up to what it says on the tin: With FinFETS you will design ever larger devices with an ever higher power profile.”

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Good times: EDAC says Q1_2013 a solid success

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

 

Well, it looks like the industry has done it again, delivering good growth over a recent quarter. The Press Release issued by EDAC’s Market Statistics Service on August 6th detailed the numbers for Q1_2013: 8.1% growth overall, including 23.8% growth in Services, 20.2% growth in IP, and (a bit less glam) 2.4% growth in EDA. Interesting.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wally Rhines continues to contribute to the industry by making himself available for conversation about the MSS numbers as they are released each period, clarifying as always that his comments are on behalf of EDAC and do not reflect his role as CEO of Mentor Graphics. When I spoke by phone with Rhines earlier this week, I asked him if we can anticipate industry results for all of 2013 by looking at the Q1 numbers.

He said no, EDAC numbers do not portend the future, they only aggregate the results from the past. To know more about the future of the industry, Rhines referred me to the four visionary keynotes given at DAC by Synopsys’ Aart de Geus, Cadence’s Lip-Bu Tan, Jasper’s Kathryn Kranen and Rhines’ own talk.

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FinFETs: Yes, No, Maybe

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

 

Ed Sperling, Editorial Director for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Design Community, moderated a breakfast panel on Tuesday morning, June 4th, at DAC. Having missed the bulk of the event, I was fortunate to have a chance later to review the slides of the five speakers:  Cavium Networks VP Anil Jain, GlobalFoundries VP Subramani Kengeri and Director Kelvin Low, and Synopsys VP Raymond Leung and Senior Director Bari Biswas.

Having now gone through the slide deck twice, I’ve come away with a set of conflicting messages. On the one hand, the challenges of FinFET implementation are so great there is still much to be done, and the promise of the technology is yet to be fully proven. On the other hand, the synergy between GlobalFoundries and Synopsys is so excellent the challenges associated with FinFET implementation are definitely being met. So which is the more accurate message?

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Amar Bose: The sound of a life well lived

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

 

Sitting in beautiful Boston on a sunny morning in July, with Cambridge just across the Charles River, it is a wistful exercise to contemplate the life of Amar Bose. Given that Dr. Bose was a well-known professor at MIT and an equally well-known entrepreneur, it is not surprising that his death last week was noted by many local publications. However, Bose Corp. is known everywhere as a provider of some of the best acoustic equipment in the world, so the passing of Amar Bose has been noted by the international press as well.

I remember being in Paris in the late 1980s, having dinner there at the apartment of some friends. They were insistent that I sit in a specially marked spot in the middle of the room to fully appreciate the symphony hall-like quality of their new sound system. They had just purchased a set of Bose speakers, which were positioned carefully to create a magical experience for whoever sat in that special seat. I did as I was told and found that my hosts were absolutely right. It was uncanny how rich and full and lifelike the sound was there, as if one were sitting in Davies Hall listening to MTT direct Mahler. It was indeed magical.

The man behind the excellence of this sound had a typical MIT CV. He was a first-generation American whose parents had fled political upheaval in their homeland. He came from an educated family. He earned his bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. at MIT in electrical engineering. He spent a year back in the Old Country doing a Fulbright and then returned to MIT to teach for the next 45 years. Basically, he spent his entire adult life at MIT. Typical.

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Semicon West 2013: a quick sponsor eval

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

 

A note: Since composing this blog, the terrible crash took place at SFO. This tragedy is being felt keenly in the tech industry as it is possible that some of those on board were coming to San Francisco for Semicon West. Many people at the conference may have a special connection to the injured and/or have had their travel plans radically altered while SFO is attempting to deal with the aftermath. The people at EDACafe wish to express their deep concern for everyone affected by the accident.

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This is clearly a holiday week, so most people are paying more attention to the barbeque than next week’s massive Semicon West in Moscone Center, so let’s keep this pre-event note short and to the point.

It is always [somewhat] telling to see who is and who is not sponsoring conferences, and Semicon West is no exception. What can be discerned, for instance, from the fact that GlobalFoundries is a sponsor of the conference this year, but TSMC is not? That Mentor Graphics and Synopsys both have their names on the sponsor list, but Cadence does not?

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Lifestyles: Jazz Cellars in Dogpatch

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

 

Perhaps it’s an unlikely topic for a blog on a website all about EDA and IP, but making wine is the subject herein nonetheless, and the reason is simple: Long-time EDA veteran Bob Smith, Senior VP of Sales and Business Developmental at Uniquify, has been leading a double life – EDA exec by day and wine-maker extraordinaire by nights/weekends.

Smith and Joe Lazzara started Jazz Cellars winery back in 2005, and since that time have burdened friends and family with their obsession for making fine wines, now award-winning fine wines. Their operations are centered in Dogpatch, a distinctly trendy neighborhood in San Francisco just south of the ballpark that’s grown even trendier now, thanks to Dogpatch WineWorks where Jazz Cellars and other boutique vintners share the costs of doing business.

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Atrenta: Building on long-term relationships

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

 

Atrenta VP Mike Gianfagna graciously extended an invitation to attend an event this evening in Grenoble, France. Jointly sponsored by CEA-Leti and Atrenta, Mike said the event was to be held on the CEA-Leti campus “in conjunction with Leti Innovations Days” and would “toast the progress Atrenta has made at its R&D facility in the city.”

It would have been great to have been there, as I was in Grenoble back in March 2011 when Atrenta first inaugurated its R&D center at the Micro and Nanotechnologies Innovation Center (MINATEC) in the city. The 2011 event was marked by a wonderful wine-enriched reception and a series of speakers articulating Atrenta’s vision in partnering with MINATEC. Those speakers included Atrenta CEO Ajoy Bose and STMicro’s Executive Vice President Philippe Magarshack, among others. You can see my original 2011 post below for more details.

Alternatively, if you want to know more about this evening’s reception in Grenoble, I have cut-and-pasted Mike Giafagna’s notes immediately below that he sent summarizing the event after the fact. It was not surprising to learn that Ajoy Bose spoke this evening, but to learn that Philippe Magarshack was also there, as he was in 2011, gives pause.

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In the Moment: Ellison as Connoisseur

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

 

This morning, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum previewed their newest exhibition for the press, In the Moment: Japanese Art from the Larry Ellison Collection. It opens to the public on Friday, June 28th, and is well worth a visit.

Yes, Mr. Ellison is the fifth richest person in the world and clearly we all know he’s spent a lot of that wealth on real estate, airplanes, a variety of things that float, and  most recently in reconfiguring the San Francisco waterfront in anticipation of the upcoming America’s Cup event.

What is less well known is that Ellison has also converted a portion of his wealth into art – art from Japan specifically, some of it many centuries old. It’s that collection, or a small part of it, that’s currently on display at the Asian Art Museum across the plaza from City Hall in the heart of The City.

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Obilisetty, Hassoun, Snyder, Willis: ignore networking at your own peril

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

 

Great if you were able to attend DAC in Austin this month. Even better if you were able to attend the Monday afternoon Pavilion Panel on the how-and-why of networking for career growth. The topic may seem irrelevant to some of you, but networking sits as the center of successful career development and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Sashi Obilisetty, Director, R&D at Synopsys, assembled a seasoned panel of experts to discuss the issue – How networking is crucial to professional growth – with the June 3rd panelist including Tufts University Professor and DAC 2014 General Chair, Dr. Soha Hassoun, Calibra Consulting President Jan Willis, and Blue Pearl Software VP Kavita Snyder. The panel discussion began with Jan Willis:

Jan Willis – I want to share three perspectives on the issue. First, networking matters a great deal – for changing jobs, for moving into other fields, and for changing your career trajectory. I didn’t realize how much it mattered until I found that 100-percent of my current business in consulting is a result of networking.

Second, sponsors are very different from mentors, not at all the same. Sponsors tap you on the shoulders and point out when a job is available that would be good for you going forward. Third, networking is critical and it’s important to spend time on it. LinkedIn is a wonderful thing, but it offers you a false sense of security that you have great connections. If you’re not working at networking, [your network] won’t work for you.

Soha Hassoun – I would like to emphasize that it’s important to network early on in your career. Some people wait until they are at the mid-point in their careers, but that is too late. Whether in academia or industry, it holds true – you need to start early.

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